Ancestry: History: 20th Century: Fashion:

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The concept of fashion only dates back through the 20th century as prior to this time period, fashion was left for only the wealthiest of individuals. It was back in 1826 when the world’s very first fashion designer made his way into the scene. Previous people were merely dressmakers, but Charles Frederick Worth opened the first fashion shop in Paris, France.

At the dawning of the 20th century more and more garment shops began to hire their own artists to render new design concepts in current fashion trends. With so much success in the fashion industry starting to become more and more popular, fashion designers were able to dictate what their customers wore rather than the customer telling the dressmaker what to make.

At the turn of the century, the most fashions that made their way into people’s wardrobes came from Paris, and it was then that Paris, France first made their way as the fashion capitol of the world. These fashions heralding from France led to the development of the first department stores which began to pop up allowing for the ready-to-wear fashion trends that made the department stores what they are today.

The first fashion magazines also began to make an appearance as many talented illustrators began to draw the department store’s fashions. One magazine which is considered to be the most famous of the turn of the century fashion magazines was the La Gazette du bon ton that was originally established back in 1912 and then was continuously published by Lucien Vogel until 1925.

The very first fashion trend was known as the 'Belle Époque and carried an hourglass style shape but as much of the designs of the time, the 'Belle Époque required a third-party to assist with putting the outfits on. This design was then followed by the S-Bend silhouette which utilised an S-Bend corset as a means of maintaining what was considered to be the perfect womanly figure.

At this same time, Maison Redfern designed the very first suit outfit for women which resembled that of a male’s suit. This concept is still used today. The early 1900’s saw the use of parasols, designer hats and more which all made their way onto the scene thanks to the designs of the French fashion specialists.

As time went on, the styles went further to a more straight lined silhouette as the need or want of the use of a corset or a third party to dress one was becoming obsolete. As the designs became slimmer, the focus on ornamental items became more popular and as such the fashion trends which had dominated the world for the last century began to disappear and were often seen as obsolete; or in the new concept, out of style.

By 1915, a new design began to make its way onto the scene. This new style was a shorter skirt. Previously, the concept or even the notion of a woman wearing a shorter skirt was considered to be inappropriate, but in1915, times were changing and the mid-drift skirt started making its way into the world of fashion.

By the end of the First World War, corsets had become a thing of the past and no women wore them at all. Furthermore, the first dresses that were above the knees, or technically the first skirts made their way into the worldly fashions. As such, the new styles began to focus on enhancing the natural curves of the woman’s body rather than augmenting it. As a result, the outfits became slimmer still and allowed to be more form-fitting to the woman’s natural curves.

As the woman’s styles were changing on almost a constant occasion, the male’s fashions changed only slightly. However, the mid 1920’s saw some extreme changes in the men’s fashions around the world. Suits that were used previously for only special occasions became an everyday fashion as the younger crowds began wearing long-tail suits throughout the average day and made the way for the zoot suit to become a fashion trend for men.

Furthermore, it was becoming common place for men in their 20’s to 30’s to wear London Cut tuxedos on a nightly basis as they went out into the town for the evening. Men also began to wear their sweaters during the day as everyday clothing along with their breeches which previously had been evening wear.

In the 1930’s the world began to experience the effects of the Great Depression and as such, many designers chose not to experiment with new designs during this time period. However, this did not mean that there were not changes in the fashion industry. Women’s dresses returned back to a normal waistline, but the biggest difference was the open back dresses which for the first time exposed the female’s back in public. As the dresses became backless, the new trend was not a dress at all, but rather the pull-over sweater.

Just as the First World War led to some radical changes in the fashion industry, so too did the Second World War, but the effects of the war were felt in Paris, France as it started to lose its grip on the fashion industry; as a result, new designs made their way into the world, not just for adults, but also for children.

As central heating and air-conditioning became more popular, the clothes gradually became synthetics that were lighter and grew in popularity quickly. Clothing at this time had started to become simplified and then complex once again as first the 1950’s skirts made their way onto the scene, and then the trends of the world’s fashion industry began to rejuvenate itself once again. The reasons for this is the fact that the many industrial factories which had been springing up everywhere were capable of making clothes cheaper and as a result, Paris, France began to make its way back into the limelight of the fashion industry.

It was the 1970’s that saw the end of good tasting fashion trends and the beginning of the awesome fashion trends. From knit scarves, tie dye and frayed jeans, the new fashion trends were becoming more unisex. At the same time, for the first real time in world history, every race also began to wear its own fashion trends. The African-Americans started wearing clothing influenced from their African roots and as the Black Panthers and persons like Angela Davis and Diana Ross began making their way onto the scene in these fashions.

The 1980’s too saw some drastic trends in the fashion industry. As the digital age started making its way into the lives of the world and the availability of narcotics like cocaine started making its way into the scene, the use of leather and rubber began to become popular.

The fashion trends of the 20th century changed unlike any other century this world has ever seen. Perhaps it is because of the increased number of people living in the 20th century as compared to previous centuries, or it was because of the increased academics of the people of the world, however the big changes in the fashion industry can actually come down to the many advancements in the science and technology.

Original Authors: Nick (Globel Team)
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 29/07/2008



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